The Rev. Kent Fuqua works on a scroll saw in his home woodworking shop in Hudson. Now retired as pastor of Hope Lutheran Church after 17 years there and a 46-year career in the ministry, he plans to work in his shop more, visit his children and grandchildren more often and maybe get in some time fishing.

HUDSON — After 46 years in the ministry, the Rev. Kent Fuqua is gearing for the final phase of his life — a life of retirement, that unfortunately means saying goodbye to his congregation at Hope Lutheran Church of Hudson. His final sermon was on Valentine’s Day.

“I just knew it was time and announced it around a year ago,” said Fuqua, who will turn 72 soon. “I intensely love this congregation and my time at Hope has been the best years of my life.”

Fuqua has headed Hope Lutheran for 17 years. He said he will be spending time visiting family, working in his home woodshop and “decompressing,” after nearly five decades and a particularly trying pandemic year. He will continue reconciliation and mediation work for another five years, applying his doctorate degree in counseling to help people struggling with life issues.

“He’s a very hands-on pastor,” said Steve Denny, head elder at the church. “There’s no doubt no one will be able to fill his shoes; we’re going to try to get close, though.”

Denny describes Fuqua as an exceedingly caring man who enjoyed all the social ministries started at Hope.

“He is very proud of all the ministries, particularly our prison ministry,” said Denny. “It has been very rewarding for him to see how the prisoners change when they hear the gospel; we’re going to miss him.”

Susan Skoufatos, who has been Fuqua’s secretary at Hope for more than a decade, said she always will value her years working with the reverend.

“It’s been a very rewarding experience and I’m privileged to call him ‘friend,’” Skoufatos said. “He’s a very caring and personable; I don’t think he has an enemy in the world.”

Skoufatos said Fuqua is known as an even-tempered speaker, but he’s fearless about speaking louder when it’s called for.

“He speaks up when he needs to,” she said. “When he sees something isn’t right, he says something.”

Skoufatos said she looks forward to seeing Fuqua, who lives near the church, from time to time during his retirement.

Fuqua said he has a daughter in Brandon he will have time to visit more often, and he’ll have more time for his woodworking hobby. He and his wife of 49 years, Arlene, will become frequent visitors of their grandchildren, and soon their soon-to-be great-grandchild, in Georgia.

He’s philosophical, expecting a “fantastic” life ahead and being able to reflect fondly on the “absolutely fantastic” one he leaves behind.

Fuqua is from Wichita, Kansas. He graduated from St. John’s College in 1969 and Concordia Senior College with a bachelor of arts in 1971. He then entered the Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. His first assignment was to Christ the King Lutheran Church in Dighton, Kansas. He received his Master of Divinity degree from Concordia Seminary-in-Exile and was ordained into the Holy Ministry in November 1975.

Fuqua was assigned to Lake Wales Lutheran Church in 1977, where he helped start a preschool and elementary school. In 1991 he served at the Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Stockbridge, Georgia, where he served as an officer and board member of the Lutheran Ministries of Georgia. He became pastor of Hope Lutheran in Hudson in 2004.

He was active in the community, and among other volunteer efforts served as a minister on call at Regional Medical Center of Bayonet Point, counseling and comforting the family members of trauma patients. At Hope, he put his guitar playing hobby to work as lead guitarist in the Hope Praised Band, which performs at Saturday night services. Among his other interests are fishing and aviation.